BELO CUTS 250 JOBS IN WAKE OF CIRCULATION SCANDAL

Top Execs to Forgo Salary Raises and Bonuses

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the wake of a circulation overstatement scandal at Belo Corp.'s Dallas Morning News, the company will cut 250 jobs and give no salary raises or bonuses to key executives, said Belo Chairman-CEO Robert Decherd in a conference call with analysts this morning.

Mr. Decherd also said the company had

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finished its investigation of its circulation situation. The company found that Morning News circulation for the six months ended Sept. 30 will fall 5.1% from the previous year and Sunday circulation will be fall 11.9%. When the company announced the overstatement in August, it estimated the reductions would be 5% daily and 11.5% Sunday. For the same period in 2003 the Monday-through-Friday circulation of the Morning News was 525,441 and its Sunday circulation was 785,876.

"The large majority of the overstatements came from single-copy" sales, Mr. Decherd said.

Spate of overstatements
Since 2003, a wide range of circulation overstatements have come to light. Among them: Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's magazines YM and Rosie; Tribune Co.'s Newsday and Hoy (which reported twice the circulation it actually netted); Hollinger's Chicago Sun-Times and Ziff Davis Media's PC Magazine.

Mr. Decherd called the Belo situation "the single most disappointing event in my 18 years as CEO." He said that all executives involved with the overstatements were either no longer at the company or in non-circulation positions. He also said key company executives -- himself included -- would not receive bonuses in 2004 nor salary increase for 2005.

The majoeirty of the job cuts are coming from operations in Belo's home base of Dallas and Fort Worth.

'Time to change expense structure'
"It is time to change the expense structure of the Morning News and [Belo's Dallas TV station] WFAA-TV" to reflect the revenue situation, Mr. Decherd said.

Mr. Decherd said the internal investigation found no circulation irregularities at the company's other newspapers.

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